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UPDATE 1-EU's Vestager appeals court veto of $15 bln Apple tax order

Fri, 25th Sep 2020 11:31

(Adds Apple, Irish finance minister comment, details)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Sept 25 (Reuters) - EU antitrust chief Margrethe
Vestager on Friday appealed a court ruling dismissing her order
to iPhone maker Apple to pay 13 billion euros ($15
billion) in Irish back taxes, a landmark case in the European
Commission's crackdown against sweetheart tax deals.

The Luxembourg-based General Court in July scrapped the
Commission's 2016 ruling, saying that EU competition enforcers
had not met the requisite legal standard to show that Apple had
enjoyed an unfair advantage.

Vestager said the case was important, a sign that her drive
to get multinationals pay their fair share of taxes would
continue unabated.

"The General Court judgment raises important legal issues
that are of relevance to the Commission in its application of
State aid rules to tax planning cases," she said in a statement.

"The Commission also respectfully considers that in its
judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law,"
Vestager said.

She said legislation is required to close the tax loopholes
and ensure transparency, in a call to EU countries to revamp
rules.

Apple said the court judgment proved it has always complied
with Irish laws and that the issue was more about where it
should pay taxes rather than the amount.

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said Ireland has
always been clear that the correct amount of Irish tax was paid
and that the country provided no state aid to Apple.

The Commission's case centred on two Irish tax rulings that
it said artificially reduced Apple's tax burden for over two
decades, which in 2014 was as low as 0.005%.

Vestager has three ongoing tax cases, Ikea's and
Nike's deals with the Netherlands, as well as
Huhtamaki's agreement with Luxembourg.

($1 = 0.8587 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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